Statewide science fair planned for Blaisdell hall
The 51st State Science and Engineering Fair will be open to the public and schools from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Neal Blaisdell Center exhibition hall.
This year's event showcases the talent of 423 sixth- to 12th-graders with 348 science projects. Eighty public and private schools statewide are represented.
Gov. Linda Lingle and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration interactive robot called TERRI are scheduled to open the fair at a ceremony for participants at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Queen's Conference Center. Refreshments and entertainment will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Scientists and celebrity guests will judge the projects Tuesday for more than 460 awards and scholarships. The awards ceremony will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Pikake Room.
Christine Trusty, fair director for the Hawaii Academy of Science, said she goes to most district science fairs "to see who's coming up, and we've got some quite phenomenal projects this year."
More junior researchers are participating this year, she said.
The top two students in junior and senior categories and their teachers will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair May 11-17 in Atlanta.
Winners of the Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Windward and Leeward District Fairs and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools Science Fair also will attend the international competition.
The Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge will sponsor winners to participate in its national event in Washington, D.C.
More than 250 representatives of businesses, educational institutions and other organizations will select students for state fair awards totaling more than $65,000 in cash, prizes and travel.
NOAA's Pacific Region is offering a new "Discover Your World with NOAA" award this year to the student with the best environmental project, Trusty noted. The student and his or her teacher will receive a one-week paid vacation to visit the NOAA facility of their choice.
Among other awards, the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy is offering a trip to Mauna Kea for observations at a telescope.
UH and Hawaii Pacific University are offering tuition scholarships totaling about $115,000.
Students and visitors to the fair will have an opportunity to explore hurricanes, tsunamis and other weather events in NOAA's SciLands, an interactive virtual world people can enter via computer.
A full-size model of the space shuttle cockpit will be on display, hosted by the Air Force Association.
The Hawaii Academy of Science sponsors the state science fair with the University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Education and state Department of Education.
Last year the academy lost funding allocated by the Legislature through the Department of Education, and it used a rainy-day fund to finance the fair.
It asked the Legislature for a two-year, $500,000 grant to continue the event until it could raise funds and establish an endowment.
The Legislature appropriated $250,000, again through the department, which gave the academy a one-year contract for the fair, Trusty said.
The academy distributed $35,000 of the state allocation to the seven district fairs, $5,000 each, to help support their events, Trusty said. Also, as it has in past years, the academy gave each district fair $1,000 from money it raised in the community.